Story highlights I want my son to get his vaccines. My wife is worried about their side effects. Can I ask a court to force her to let me get them?
I want our son to get his vaccines.
My wife is worried about their side effects.
I can’t convince her to let me have my son vaccinated, though. How do I get her to change her mind?
Our family could face an intriguing ethical quandary if you can imagine that.
After a recent conversation with a lovely mother, we wondered whether I might look for a way to get my son’s vaccines. After all, he has been unvaccinated for a while and we’ve been raising him on healthy, organic and mostly organic food.
I’m sorry if this leads you to view us in a light of mistrust, but that’s not really what this is about. I don’t want to blame or scare parents off vaccines because I’m hoping to protect my son from potentially serious diseases. For myself, however, I’d like to give my little boy a few more years of healthy immune system development and immunity before he comes of age.
As I always say, there are no quick fixes. Sometimes, you just have to choose your course of action (in this case, it’s vaccinating or letting him refuse it).
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t help but think of this when I met Vivian Friedman, a mother who was just diagnosed with papillomavirus (the most common cause of genital herpes). When she learned that her once-clear throat now resembles a sagging mug, she asked her doctor whether her only option was to get a double mastectomy to save her life. It was a hard question to answer: Should I just accept that I would die? Or, as my friends at Generations of Family medicine describe in an article, should I “turn my back on life and make it what I wanted it to be?”
I know this isn’t the answer to this question and that choosing to save Vivian’s life probably isn’t going to help my child. I also know that I’m not saying that there’s a quick and easy way to do that. Many people choose their own path.
If you really want to come to my side, you’ll have to stop trying to make my wife listen to what I think is best for our child and walk with me. I’m in favor of vaccinating our child, but there’s only so much I can do to get her to think a different way (or even better, to disagree with me). I’m a strong believer in change through conversation, rather than force.
So, how do you begin to get your spouse on board? Let’s step back. We need to step back a bit.
If you’ve truly loved and cared for my little boy since he was born, you’d probably want him to live and thrive. These two are extremely different and naturally disagree on parenting and medical practices.
It might help to remember that our spouse, just like us, may have her own set of viewpoints and may even have had an allergy that prevented her from getting vaccines as a child. Maybe you’re both survivors of autoimmune disease (I’ve never had any) or you may be sick, like I was when I was a kid. If you think it’s OK to have this perspective, go for it.
Perhaps we can talk about your parents’ position on vaccinations. You’ll likely want to shield your partner from their opinions, but at least show you’re willing to be empathetic to them. You’ll probably both benefit from having this conversation.
If you would really prefer for your spouse to not vaccinate, this is the time to let her know this. I don’t think that’s ideal. They might not be able to stand by my side — my child might regress or experience hearing loss. If you feel this way, she deserves to have that decision made for her. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but make sure she’s fully on board — she’s your partner, after all.
We will hold you accountable on this. If your spouse disagrees with you, we’ll be sure to talk about it.
I know how delicate this line can be, and it might be the reason why you might find this question difficult to answer. Trust me, you’d do well to keep those feelings in mind. They’re what keeps us grounded and sometimes push us out of our comfort zone.
I love this question and encourage you to let me know how you think this particular piece ends.